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Finding Safety in a New Country

Your Gifts to Mission Services Help Women Like Kym Build New Lives Free From the Trauma of Abuse

Asian family are playing together with a computer tablet in the park, Bangkok Thailand“My daughter would not talk to me about the abuse she saw, but the staff helped her to open up and to heal… I am so thankful.”

Kym grew up thousands of miles away from the southern Ontario that she has since fallen in love with and now calls home—Saigon City, South Vietnam. Her sister met a Canadian and moved to Toronto. Not knowing anyone else in Canada, she was lonely and tried setting her sister up with her husband’s friend.

“When they visited me her husband brought a friend,” Kym explains. “On his second visit he asked me to marry him, but my father was against it. He worried it would not work because we were from different cultures. My ex did not understand my father and it took him hours to convince him. I remember he called my father stupid because he did not speak English.”

Canada symbolized a fresh start for Kym who was still in her twenties and hoping to go further in her education. “My plan was to get my high school diploma and go on to university,” Kym says. “But then I got pregnant—first a daughter and then a son. And you know how it is,” she laughs, “the years start flying by.”

I remember he called my father stupid because he did not speak English

However, Kym’s life as a young mother was anything but ideal. her husband grew increasingly jealous and controlling. Eventually he refused to let her go to work and convinced Kym’s boss to let her work from home. “My father didn’t speak to me for years because they wanted me to get a divorce,” she says. “But I still said no. It had to be my decision to leave—not my family’s or anyone else’s.”

For years Kym was cut off from her family while married to an abusive partner and living in a new country. Sadly, this story is far too common among newcomer and refugee women. Many women in this situation find it very difficult to leave an abusive partner.

As the Legal Advocate at Mission Services’ Inasmuch House, Angie, explains: “Women who are new to Canada can be more vulnerable to domestic violence due to their unique situations. They may not have legal status, their spouse may threaten to deport them and, if they don’t know English, they may not know about resources available to them.”

“Women who are new to Canada can be more vulnerable to domestic violence due to their unique situations.”

Kym faced all of these challenges. Her husband never helped her to get a visa or status as a landed immigrant. All she had for documentation after being married and living in Canada for ten years was a copy of her marriage license. She couldn’t even sign for an apartment lease if she wanted to.

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Thankfully Kym was resourceful. She reached out to a women’s shelter nearby and soon came to Inasmuch House.

“The staff at Inasmuch were amazing,” Kym says. “My daughter would not talk to me about the abuse she saw, but the staff helped her to open up and to heal. Angie also came with me every time I met the lawyers to help me understand what they were explaining.”

Angie and the staff at Inasmuch House were by Kym’s side every step of the way for her court case. The connected her to legal assistance and trauma recovery to support her own journey to healing. They also helped her to navigate the process of applying for transitional housing.

Today, Kym sits in the same chair she sat in when she first came to the shelter. But what she feels inside is completely different: “I feel so much lighter!” Her ex-husband tried to deny her a divorce but eventually she won. “He was rude and insulting until the very end,” Kym says. “Even our judge in the court got mad at him.”

Happily, that part of her life is over. As Kym is the first to acknowledge, it is thanks to the staff at Inasmuch House and the people who donate to it. “I am so thankful to everyone who supported me.”

Kym now lives in a beautiful community and owns her own business that specializes in wedding dress alterations. Some days she works at her store, other days she works from home. Now it’s a choice that she gets to make herself.

“If you are in an abusive relationship,” Kym adds, “you have to be strong and stay positive. Don’t listen to any negative person, and don’t be afraid of anything. You will survive.”

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